Lands’ End founder Gary Comer dies

It wasn’t just another clothing seller; it was a new way of doing business. Gary Comer, Lands’ End founder, built his business on the idea of developing a relationship with his customers. Lands’ End did not achieve its excellence only by the quality of its casual and professional clothing, but also for its excellent customer service. He once stated, “We believe that what is best for our customer is best for all of us.”

Working for Lands’ End as a part-time service associate, I am sad to see Comer’s passing. He was a true pioneer in both developing a better product and developing better service. His achievements should not be overlooked, and his spirit should continue to live on within the Lands’ End product. Anything short of excellent quality and customer service is an insult to his name and to the brand.

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Safety standards gap identified

The Washington Post indicates that there is a safety gap between agricultural products. It explains that the US Department of Agriculture has higher standards for meat and poultry certification than the Food and Drug Administration’s standards for produce certification. One option in discussion is stronger guidelines established by industry. I’m glad that I’m not the only person thinking about a produce certification program for the US.

Washington Post article: At E. Coli Hunt’s End, A Safety Standards Gap

Produce assurance

I cannot speak about this only as a citizen only because I have researched this as a state employee. But I am home sick today, listening to Wisconsin Public Radio. During a call-in radio show, there was a discussion about the entire spinach outbreak and what can be done to prevent or avoid this. A variety of ideas were presented by the public.

Some suggested purchasing organic. The organic standards for production are more strict than the standards for producing mass-grown products. For starters, pesticides are not permitted on any product that is labeled “organic.” That means that consumers do not need to worry about unwanted chemicals on the produce that they buy. Also, composting methods that are set forth in the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) guidelines require organic farmers to compost the manure much more than is required for non-organic farmers. This reduces (not eliminates) the potential for foodborne illnesses.

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Livestock Siting bill moves forward

I have been slowly watching the deterioration of cities over the past few years as people continue to move into the suburbs. In the process, valuable farmland has been eaten up. As you can probably tell, I’m opposed to urban sprawl. That is the primary reason why I support the livestock siting initiative. The bill, if enacted, would provide permits to livestock farmers to expand their operations.

For years, Wisconsin’s agricultural community has declined because of the barriers to expansion. Thus, the state’s dairy industry has suffered while other states, especially California, have moved in to produce more milk and cheese. Although other factors play a role (such as the federal government’s milk price fixing), local rules have held dairy farmers at bay from helping the state’s agricultural economy grow. As a result, destructive development has turned once prime agricultural land into concrete islands.

I applaud the work of those that made this legislation possible, and I am glad to hear that all sides could finally come to a consensus. Working for the agency, I realize that it took a large amount of time, effort, and resources to get this bill to this point. I hope that it can now swiftly move through the Legislature and to the Governor’s desk for signing.

DATCP press release: State Ag Board Unanimously Approves Livestock Siting Rule

Brownfield article: Wisconsin Livestock Facilities Siting Rule one step closer

Charity and Chili

It is that time of year again when my the state kicks off the Partners in Giving charity campaign. As you know, I have given to a number of charities in the past, either through donations or through time and labor. Furthermore, I have a couple of links to Web sites that provide information about the charities, including Charity Navigator and the Better Business Bureau. This year, I was in charge of putting together the Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection’s Partners in Giving Chili Cook-off. It was a huge success, and we even had a special guest stop in and give a few words of encouragement. Below is a picture of me with that special guest, Wisconsin Governor Jim Doyle.

And if you are thinking about giving to a charity, please feel free to visit the Charity Navigator Web site.

Charity Navigator Web site

Wisconsin’s farm future and the agency that helps promotes it

I received a message from the Secretary at work today that included a column from the Governor. Governor Doyle applauded the agricultural efforts of Wisconsin and recognized how the residents are tied to farming, even if they aren’t farmers. Wisconsin’s agricultural industry generates $51.5 billion annually, and we’re investing in new initiatives, such as bio-energy, to continue expanding the industry. Wisconsin is number one in cheese production in the United States (thus the name “America’s Dairyland”), and has more specialty cheese makers than any other state. And it is the first state to pass legislation that will increase animal health surveillance. Furthermore, Wisconsin had strong consumer protection legislation that became the model for national legislation in the early 20 th century.

Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP) Secretary Rod Nilsestuen e-mailed a note to recognize all of us employees today. His message was very meaningful:

“Although the work of the many DATCP employees who do much of the day to day work to help support this progress, doesn’t always create headlines, it is nonetheless important. Thank you for all you do.”

DATCP employees work very hard and care deeply about their work, and I enjoy working with all of them. So today’s blog is dedicated to all of my fellow coworkers.

Governor Doyle Column: Investing in Our Farm Future

Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board FAQ: What makes Wisconsin America’s Dairyland?

Wisconsin’s Action Man

I received the following press release at work today. I had heard about Glen Loyd before. He was known as the Action Man in the Fox Valley and Green Bay areas because of his crusade to help protect consumers. Glen continues to bring that drive to the Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP) to this day.

The press release had a link to his web log (blog, see below). I read a few of his entries and realized that someone who is interested in protecting consumers has to put up with many difficulties. It’s good to know that his passion to help others was strong enough to keep him going through the crap that he received over the years. So I dedicate this blog to Glen.

DATCP press release: Glen Loyd honored

Glen Loyd’s personal blog